WASHINGTON HAS become ever so much more festive this summer, and the pace continues into the fall with a waterfront seafood festival Sept. 19 and 20. Seafood W will be for the tasting and the studying, with demonstrations of steaming, smoking and barbecuing fish and selling of crab cakes, fried fish and clams and -- this being, thank goodness, a month with an "R" in it -- oysters on the half shell. Beer gardens for the washing it down, jazz and bluegrass for the living it up, tours of the waterfront's yachts and sailboats, even the Sequoia and a Chinese junk. Tours of the boats and sampler buffets from Maine Avenue's restaurants (platters of Hogate's seafood brochette with horseradish hollandaise, Gangplank's crab-stuffed mushrooms, Pier 7's gumbo and chowder, Flagship's shrimp cocktail and rum bun, Capital Yacht Club's seafood creole) will cost $5, purchased at the festival or ahead of time at the restaurants or from the event's beneficiary, the National Kidney Foundation, 1529 O St. NW, Washington 20005. (202) 387-8730. Festivities will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days.
If you think you are desperate to use up your garden's worth of zucchini, imagine what must have driven the farmers of Vineland, N.J., to develop eggplant wine. So proud are they of their originality that they have teamed with Renault Wineries to market Vineland Eggplant Wine (half eggplant and half grape) commercially. No, we haven't tasted it, but we already are imagining a season of wine and cheese parties featuring the likes of Eggplant-Parmesan.
Rave and ye shall get. Or so it was when we complimented the smoked fish spread we tasted at a recent food distributors' exhibition. Laurie Dean, home economist with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, it seems, was the cook behind the smoked fish, and she sent in the recipe. She warns that the most important ingredient is the smoked fish, which can be made in a backyard grill with a cover; the fish should be of the highest quality (she hopes from Virginia). Marinate 2 pounds of 1/2-inch-thick fish fillets in a brine of 1 gallon water and 1 cup salt for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Dry the fish and smoke over 1 pound hickory or hardwood chips that have been soaked at least 5 hours in 2 quarts of water. Smoke over low heat, using less charcoal than for broiling, the charcoal covered with 1/3 of the chips. Place fish on well-greased grill, skin side down, 4 to 6 inches from the smoking coals. Baste fish with oil frequently. Close hood and smoke fish for 1 hour at 150 to 175 degrees or 30 minutes at 200 degrees. Add remaining wet chips as needed to keep the fire smoking.
Then comes the spread:
LAURIE DEAN'S SMOKED FISH SPREAD (Makes 3 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 pounds smoked fish
2 teaspoons or more minced onion
2 teaspoons or more finely chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet pickle
1 cup or less mayonnaise
1 tablespoon brown or creole mustard
Dash worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Remove skin and bones from fish (most easily done while fish is still warm). Mix all ingredients and chill at least one hour.
The golden days of summer are fading, and with them the golden peaches that compensate for the heat and mosquitoes. For a last peach fling Maple Lawn Farms in Gatchellville, Pa., is throwing a "Peachilicious Labor Day Weekend" today from 1 to 6 p.m. and tomorrow from noon to 6 p.m. Whole hogs are being roasted to sandwich with peaches; hot dogs will be sauced with spiced peaches, ice cream will be swirled with peaches and topped with more peaches. Iced tea will be garnished with peaches, punch concocted with peaches. Even hamburger will be blended with peaches for meatballs. For dessert, peach pies, of course, baked by the hundreds by church women's groups. Can't have peaches without a bluegrass band, of course. And once you've eaten your fill, you can carry on with peach-theme crafts, peach T-shirts and peach farm caps. Then take home a bushel that you have picked yourself or bought from the market. For more information, call (717) 382-4878.